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OUR COVID-19 RESPONSE UPDATES

Farmers get latest agronomic and real time market information

Story

By Sangita Patra

18 July 2020

Adoption of mobile phone application to learn about new farming techniques, pests and plant diseases, and market price of the produce in Odia is changing the culture of farming in rural Odisha.

Gaya Mallik is now a successful farmer after deploying ICT solutions.

Photograph by Narayan Kumar Sahu

Gaya Mallik from the Adivasi colony of the Ganjam district narrated how the farmers like him used to be short-changed by middlemen in the past. Farmers had no room for negotiation with the middlemen and often ended up offering agro-produce at dirt cheap prices. Under the SCI, the farmers now receive SMS’ of the updated price-list of all nearby Mandis (markets). Gaya Mallik is satisfied that local farmers now have the flexibility to select the markets where they want to sell the produce.

Gaya explained how Gram Vikas has played a critical role in transforming the farmer’s knowledge ecosystem. A Field Expert from Gram Vikas visited his village and showed different educational videos on farming techniques, the correct procedure of making seedbed and planting eggplant seedlings at two to two and a half feet from each other.

Earlier, 10-15 packets of eggplant seeds would provide around 150-200 saplings. After learning the new farming techniques, farmers were able to produce 1800 to 2000 saplings from just one packet.

Gaya Mallik admitted that earlier farmers would blame the low yield of sapling on the poor quality of seeds. Also, the farmers were habituated by the linear process of creating furrows, scattering seeds, ploughing and watering seeds. This process would cause decomposition of seeds under the ground and they would cease to grow. He feels that the new technique of raising saplings by spacing and preparing a seedbed is a boon for the local farmers.

Rabindra Jani, another farmer from Kandha Tirigochha village in the Ganjam district echoed similar feelings by sharing his own experiences. Earlier the farmers had limited knowledge of pests. After watching the videos shared by Gram Vikas on mobile phones, farmers can now differentiate between different pests and plant diseases. Rabindra shared his revelation after watching a video on the I am Kisan mobile app. The video helped him identify the name of predator pest, thrips, which attacked his crops last season. The video also instructed him about the measures to arrest a thrips attack.

Rabindra Jani has now been  chosen as the ‘village level entrepreneur’ for his village under the SCI programme. He downloads video content from Gram Vikas’ Smart Community server and uploads it on the local village server. He feels the knowledge and learning from these videos will have a significant impact on the culture of farming in this region.

With the ease in accessing resourceful information in Odia, farmers are more amenable to adopting modern farm practices for improving crop productivity. Currently, 200 farmers from twenty two villages in Ganjam are benefitting from the SCI.

Rabindra showing informational videos on farming practices on his smartphone to other farmers.

Photograph by Krishna Chandra Dikshit.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

Krishna Chandra Dikshit, Field Expert with Gram Vikas, supported field data collection for the story. Priya Pillai edited the story.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sangita Patra is a Thematic Manager with Gram Vikas.

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